The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May Review





The Fallen Kingdom is the final installment in The Falconer trilogy. This is not a novel that can be read as a stand alone, so make sure you go back and read the other novels in the series (like I did). If you are wanting a happy novel, this is not the book for you.


The novel opens with Aileana crawling out of the ground with no memory (if you remember, she died at the end of the last novel).  It becomes apparent rather quickly that this is not the same Kam from the previous novels. She is much more...primal. Her eyes are different, as are her powers. Luck has it that she runs into a friend, Derrick, rather quickly. Certain events happen, and thankfully Kam's memory is restored fully. Following her memory restoration, she is reunited with Kiaran again. Love happens, of course, but there is a shadow over it. Soon after the reunions, the surviving group of humans and fae realize that they must go on a quest if they would like to save the world...again.  The group this time consists of Aithinne, Aileana, Kiaran, and Sorcha. Yes, Sorcha that killed killed Aileana in the last novel Sorcha. Tensions are high as a result within the group. The novel continues with a breath taking climax and a very satisfying conclusion to the series.



Thoughts (Light spoilers in this section)



I really enjoyed this final installment of the Falconer series. As a reader, it has enough action with a satisfying conclusion to be happy. Thankfully it did not fizzle out like so many other series. It actually wrapped up the majority of loose ends. While parts of the ending were illogical, (Sorcha, I am looking at you) it created enough of the warm fuzzy feelings to justify the crazy. Despite a warm and fuzzy ending, I did spend half of the novel in tears. There comes a point where you just get down, and then the plot keeps kicking you repetitively. I actually had to put it down at one point to take a deep breath. There was so much death and destruction. One of the deaths, in particular, fully breaks your heart. It was devastating.



The story was masterfully woven and well done. In general, there are two major issues that bothered me (besides a couple of smaller ones that will be discussed in the spoiler section). First, the amount of time it takes Aileana to get her memory back (it happens so close to the beginning of the novel, it is not really a spoiler). The amount of plot devoted to her missing memory was minimal. From the plot description, it seems like it would be a major issue throughout the novel. It is not.  In fact, so little was devoted that it turned from an interesting facet of the plot to a device to try to draw readers in. Aileana lamented her memory loss briefly, then boom all was well. I wanted more agony from her, and truly wanted more interaction with other character's without her memory. I wanted it to have a direction, for there to be character development as well as conflict, and Kam to really work for it to return.  The second issue was peoples reaction's to her no longer being dead. While happiness is definitely an emotion that would follow once verifying it truly was my friend, that is the sole emotion the character's experienced. They just blindly accepted it. If the reaction was honest and natural, there should have been shock, fear, skepticism. Someone they believed was dead suddenly is not. I know I would be shocked at the minimum. It just did not feel genuine as a result. That surprised me since May is excellent at conveying emotions. Those two issues aside, the story ran smoothly. I particularly appreciate Kam's struggle with her mental health after everything that has happened to her. It is refreshing and realistic to have lingering damage after all she has experienced.


Characters

Aileana (Kam)

She showed immense character growth this novel. Aileana appeared mature and driven. She also had to cope with the decline of her mental health throughout the novel. Her previous torture, death, and guilt over not saving the world took a toll. It was an interesting internal conflict to see written out. One thing I disliked, though, it that Kam seems to be dumber in this novel. She was more impulsive. When in the past she thought about her moves and calculated her next steps, this one she just reacted. It was like character devolution in that aspect. The way the character was written in combination with the characterization created a believable, realistic character.
"I'm a creature of chaos and death and maybe this is how I'm meant to die. In a battle. At the end of a long war." The Fallen Kingdom
Kiaran (McKay)

My love for this character has not died. He will forever be one of my favorite love interests in a young adult novel. While still having a "bad boy" persona, he had none of the negative characteristics that typically accompany the trope. He is protective, but not overbearing. Respects her as a person and also believes she can fight her own battles. He is caring and playful with her. Above all, he loves her unconditionally. It is lovely. That being said, Kiaran is still dark and broody, even more so since he is now back to being his full Unseelie king self. So much so, that people begin to believe he is fully evil since he is drinking human blood again by necessity. Of course, he is not truly evil and his personality has not really changed. However, he definitely does not fall into the category of good either. He is a nice middle ground of morally ambiguous, although definitely leans towards good. Lonely and despondent are the primary personality traits this time around when Kam was dead and he was competing with his sister. He is a dynamic and multidimensional character.
"The girl helps the king keep his darkness at bay." The Fallen Kingdom
Aithinne

Oh crazy, amazing Aithinne. She was on rare form in this novel. Kind, strong, loving, and a bit kooky, he wit is definitely what shine through. She is multidimensional and dynamic. Throughout the novel, there is definite character growth as she progresses towards being the Seelie queen. Even though she is slightly broken, she is still a capable leader. She is my favorite character in this series.
"Don't. My patience with you is very thin and I'm ready to stick you with the pointy end of my blade." The Fallen Kingdom
Sorcha

After killing Aileana, I was surprised that Sorcha would be a main character in this novel. However, May continually surprises her readers and did just that. She also took her from a one dimensional villain, to a complex, somewhat more sympathetic villain. I will not say that May convinced me Sorcha is good. She is not. Sorcha's done plenty of evil, but her motivations are explained a bit more. What I did hate, though, was that one of her more despicable acts (murdering the MC) took place primarily due to jealousy. A magnificently complex character, as well as a bad ass female's most defining moment took place all because she wanted the MC's man. Him being the Unseelie king again was just a bonus, as would be the power she would gain from being his consort. For all of the great female friendships in this series, as well as massive amounts of girl power, I hate that one of the villains is reduced to being catty. That being said, this novel allowed Sorcha excellent character growth and prevented her from being a caricature of a mean girl.
"Someone give this human a bauble for her detective skills. You're truly a wonder, Falconer." The Fallen Kingdom
"Forgiveness isn't something given. It's something earned." The Fallen Kingdom


Antagonist Analysis (Light spoilers in this section)


This novel introduced the reader to the Morrigan. Anyone familiar with Celtic mythology recognizes her as ne of the major deities. In this novel, she is one of the oldest and original fae. This is a great premise to create a major villain, but it lacked execution. The character fell flat to the point where she felt generic. She was portrayed as the ultimate evil, even having various flashbacks showing all the cruelty she partook in. However, that is basically as far of a backstory goes. A few other things were briefly mention, but not enough to make her complex. I detest one dimensional villains. It feels a bit like Disney, where they are evil just because they can be. I prefer villains to be dynamic characters, to garner a hint of sympathy, even if they are beyond repair.


Writing

The writing as a whole is excellent. The prose flows and is highly descriptive. There are not any glaring grammatical errors, however, there are a few minor errors. Hopefully they will be caught in the final edit before publishing, since the copy I received was an ARC.


Romance


As usual, Kiaran and Aileana are amazing together. They have a great relationship. Even when angry with each other, they talk it out and make up. I have no complaints, and enjoy the major feels it produces.
"I don't like overbearing men." His mouth quirks into a sly smile. "And yet I love assertive, stubborn women." The Fallen Kingdom


*Major Spoilers Ahead!*


Derrick's death. Oh man, it just broke me. It was wholly unexpected and just cruel. It reminded me a lot of Dobby's death, dying protecting the one he loved.
"I don't like to see you cry. You're my favorite." The Fallen Kingdom
I cried like a baby. It just felt so incredibly unfair, although I guess most death's feel that way. Having Kiaran do it, even inadvertently, just makes it worse. I do feel as if the after effects of his death were well done. Everyone mourned, and Kam/Kiaran were filled with guilt for their involvement with his death. The funeral scene was just tragic and beautiful. My heart absolutely ached for the characters.


Ending

The ending definitely had plausibility issues to me. Kiaran sacrificing himself but Sorcha surviving due to an "old magic" override, okay. Reversing time but the important characters being able to keep their memories, a stretch but I can believe it. At least, for Aileana I can. The rest of the group that had to be resurrected with the time reversal it was a little harder to stomach. What I struggled the most with was Sorcha's sacrifice to bring Kiaran back to life. Dying just so he can live again does not fit her personality. Yes, she loved him and owed him a lot. Yes, she does have a slight record of sacrificing herself for someone else (her mother). However, she hated Aileana enough to kill her once and later bind Kiaran to her for eternity out of spite. No matter how close she and Kam became during their quest, it would not have been enough to do something of that magnitude. She is selfish, and I truly cannot see that sacrifice happening.


All of that aside, I love that Kiaran became human to be able to share one lifetime with Aileana. It was beautiful, and my inner romantic swooned. Since I am selfish, I wished there was an epilogue. I wanted them to have children. They come across as amazing parent's, particularly Kiaran. Aithinne would also be hilarious as an aunt. However, I really cannot complain about the ending. It was incredibly satisfying.


"I kiss him back with everything I'm feeling. I make promise with that kiss. I give messages. I tell him secrets. I believe in wishes now. Our kiss is filled with the thousand possibilities of a futures entirely chosen by us. Him and me. Together." The Fallen Kingdom

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